Something that’s got me really heated this week is this thing I’m calling the consumer conspiracy — because it’s an idea so convoluted that it sounds like a conspiracy and people think I’m a little bit crazy when I describe it to them.
A few months ago I was working in the mall near my house, and a woman that works at one of the jewelry shops told me that she had to work at a different shop this week — and I said,
“You can work at a different store?! How?”
And she told me a secret: they’re all the same store. Zale’s, Kay, Jared’s, Belden, Hannoush. There are probably some more that I’m missing, but you get the idea. Even Piercing Pagoda is also a part of the conglomerate of jewelry stores.
And when she saw I was horrified by this revelation, she also told me that Walmart and Modcloth are also owned by the same company!
A few days ago I found out that Disney had bought rights to The Simpson’s. Which just seems wrong, in my humble opinion, but okay.
And just this morning I found out that one single company owns Vogue, GQ, New Yorker, and one other well-known magazine. Which honestly didn’t faze me, since I learned a few years ago Rupert Murdoch had acquired National Geographic.
Maybe I’m making this into a big deal, but I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that all of these unrelated companies are, in fact, connected; I think this is what the economists would call a monopoly. As a consumer, I like to feel like I’m making very conscious choices when I buy products (she says after impulse-buying a bunch of cheap clothes at the mall two days ago) so I’m just trying to make sense of everything.
I like capitalism just as much as the next person (read: when it suits my own needs) but something about one company owning every jewelry store in any given mall seems wrong somehow, and I don’t know how I feel about paying Modcloth’s prices when I know that Walmart sells shorts for a dollar. I just wish there was more transparency in consumerism.
The crazy thing is that I go to school, I read books, I listen to podcasts. I research topics from ancient civilizations to Revelations to the policymaking process. And there’s so much I don’t know, tons of things I haven’t taken into consideration. I want to be able to talk about this conspiratorial topic intelligently rather than confusedly.
tl;dr: I need to take an econ class.